Sunday, 21 December 2008

Merry Christmas and a happy new year

Best wishes of the season to anyone who may happen to look in at this time! You'll probably remember the Christmas feasts at Stouts Hill.

Alan Davis recently pointed me to a short article about Stouts Hill by Stephen Fry, in which he repeats some of his memories already mentioned in Moab is my washpot.

Stouts Hill Reunion 2009

Alan Davis has pointed out that March 2009 will be the 30th anniversary of the closure of the school, so it seems an appropriate time to hold a reunion of ex-pupils and staff. He's visited Stouts Hill (now a holiday resort) and found that we could have the use of part of the building for such a reunion.

Alan lives near Stouts Hill and seems willing to take responsibility for organizing the event, so three cheers for Alan! He's already sent out a message about it through Friends Reunited.

If you're interested, please contact Alan directly so that he can add you to his list. If you don't have his address, you can find mine here. You can add comments to this topic if you want to join in a public discussion; remember to add your name, unless you want to remain anonymous.

For Stouts Hill's own Web site, see the link 'Stouts Hill now' on the right-hand side of the page.

Newsflash, 2 Nov: Alan tells me that so far 21 ex-pupils have expressed interest in the reunion, including himself and me, and not including family members who may wish to come along too.

Newsflash, 27 Nov: Alan tells me that Stouts Hill is willing to let us use three rooms (main hall, drawing room, Blue dining room) for a fee of £50, to cover any cleaning up that may need to be done after the visit. The cost of a buffet lunch will be estimated in the near future. If a large number of people turn up, there are concerns about car parking and the fact that there is only one 'public' toilet in the main building. As an alternative, Miles Wachter (Stouts Hill ex-pupil and ex-master) may be able to offer lunch at Beaudesert Park School, where he's now deputy headmaster. Regarding a date, Alan is now considering a Sunday in July or August, but he's still welcoming your opinions on this subject.

Newsflash, 2 Dec: Please read Alan's recent comments about eating arrangements (among the comments on this topic). As one alternative, he's found a pleasant pub at Nympsfield (a short distance from Uley) that can accommodate about 60 people. He'd like your opinions.

11 Dec: As Alan is now a Contributor to this blog, I'm hope we'll see further news on this subject directly from him.

21 Dec: Alan tells me that "feedback on the reunion has come in at... absolute zero! What to do? There are only six possible dates, so I think that by new year if I still haven't got any feedback, I will approach Stouts Hill and ask which is the best date out of those for them and go with that." Seems a reasonable plan to me.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Start your own threads

The normal way that a blog works is that the blog owner starts each new thread with an initial post, and the general public can then comment on it. I proposed initially that anyone who wanted a new thread on a particular subject could put a comment about it in the new thread suggestions thread, but few people have taken me up on that.

I've now noticed, rather belatedly, that I can invite particular people to become Contributors to the blog, in which case they can start their own threads. If you're interested in doing so, let me know, preferably by e-mail, because I'll need your e-mail address in order to issue the formal invitation. My address is here.

In order to be a Contributor, you need to register as a Blogger user, which is quick, easy, and free. You may also need to learn a little about how Blogger works; I haven't found it difficult myself.

As an alternative, you are of course free to start your own blogs. As this is my blog, I retain a certain amount of editorial control over it (I can delete stuff, etc.).

I've already added Alan Davis as a Contributor, because he's in charge of the Reunion and will probably have things to say about it.

I thought of setting a Fiendishly Difficult Exam for prospective Contributors, but gave up the idea on realizing that I'd probably fail it myself. I have fond memories, though, of the Assassins' School final exam as described in Terry Pratchett's Pyramids.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Class of 1968/69

I can make a start on this from various sources of information.

  • William Annandale
  • Peter Dawson
  • Roger Fayle
  • Naveed Iqbal
  • Nicholas (?) Ireland
  • Graham Kirk
  • David Povey
  • David Quinn

Quinn, Iqbal, Povey, Annandale, and Ireland can be seen in the group below:

Mixed age groups

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Stouts Hill Magazine

Paddy Scott-Clark, Julian Williams, and Jeremy Cape have kindly sent me some old issues of the Stouts Hill Magazine to scan, and I've now scanned all of them. In addition, John Morris has (even more kindly!) scanned eight magazines himself, and sent me the files.

As a result, all magazines from 1959 to 1977 are available for downloading here, with the exception of the 1965 issue, which I'd particularly like to get hold of (does anyone have it?).

The 1966 issue has 8 pages missing and 8 pages duplicated: evidently someone in 1966 made a mistake in assembling it. I've scanned only one copy of each duplicated page.

Technical note: I scan the magazines at 600 dpi and 16-bit greyscale, and archive the scans in TIFF files; but those files are large, so the files I upload to the Web are reduced to 150 dpi and 8-bit greyscale, slightly cropped, and subjected to JPEG compression. John Morris scanned his magazines at 300 dpi, 8-bit greyscale, JPEG.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Class of 1967/68

Julian has suggested putting together a list of our bunch, who travelled through the school together and left in 1967 or 1968. I can start threads for other years as demand arises.

  • Simon Cash-Reed
  • John Charles-Jones
  • Robert Cullen
  • Brian D'Arcy Clark
  • Michael Dolin
  • Richard Erskine
  • T. (Taffy?) Evans
  • Emile Farhi
  • Lindsay Gunn
  • Graham Holmes
  • Jeremy Klinger
  • Charles Llewellyn
  • Digby Macpherson
  • Jacob 'Yogi' Matheson
  • Malcolm & Robert St Maur Mills
  • Robert Morris
  • Grant Needham
  • Jonathan Palfrey
  • Michael Read
  • Timothy Sangster
  • Azad Shivdasani
  • Mark Waterstone?
  • Michael Webbern
  • Julian Williams
  • Donald Wynn
  • Robert Yorath

Here's a photo of some of us; date uncertain, probably 1965.

The gang in summer

R. Jackson (1960-65) and R. Coley (1961-66) have also been nominated for this list, but their dates at the school suggest that they were older than the rest of the group.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Mr Coley

Stephen Fry mentions being introduced to poetry by an English master called Chris Coley. I never met Mr Coley, who apparently replaced Mr Birchall soon after I left the school in 1967.

Chris Coley, Lower Sixth classroom

Friday, 31 October 2008

Mr Woods

David Woods was known as Peck, Pecker, or Pecker Bird — because of Woody Woodpecker, of course, not because of any personal characteristics.

He was a keen young man who taught Latin to the younger boys, invented educational games to be played in class, and organized voluntary sports out of class.

Mr Woods in action

Jonathan Marler remembers that he taught Greek as well as Latin.

He was interested in photography, and developed and printed photos himself in a darkroom at the school.

The 1967 Stouts Hill Magazine reveals that Mr Woods was a pupil at the school in 1938-41, so he must have been born in about 1928 — not as young as I thought. He went to teach elsewhere in 1967.

Mr Woods has the ball

I must admit I had a brief urge to caption the above photo “Pecker has only got one ball”; surely I can't be entering my second childhood already?

Mr Quick

I must admit I'd almost forgotten Michael Quick, who I think taught the younger boys. He was known as Inky, perhaps because of the Parker Quink fountain pen ink that I think was in common use at the time.

A vague sense of Mr Quick

The 1966 Stouts Hill Magazine reveals that he taught at the school for five years, from 1961 to 1966; so he was no longer there in my final year. The 1967 Magazine reports that he was enjoying teaching older boys at Dover Grammar School.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sue Angus/Cromie

Sue (Susan) was the third of the Angus daughters, and a pupil at the school from 1945 to 1952. She married Mr Cromie in 1960, and they had a son named Andrew. During my time, they lived in the Cottage, on the school grounds, part of which was a small dormitory with bunk beds. I slept in that dormitory for one or two terms, I think.

John Morris remembers that Sue taught him to dance the Charleston for Salad Days.

The Cromies still live in Uley.

Friday, 17 October 2008

1968 school fête photos

I've added to the photos a couple of the 1968 school fête, provided by John Morris today. These are much higher-quality versions of two of the photos that appear in the 1968 Stouts Hill Magazine.

After the opening (with Mr and Mrs Angus):

Stouts Hill fête: after the opening

Boys selling in the rain:

Stouts Hill fête: boys selling in the rain

Mr Angus

Robert Angus (known as Boss) was the headmaster of the school until 1969: a tall commanding figure who seemed so central to the school that he must have been there forever. Indeed, according to Nicholas Barton's history of Stouts Hill, Mr Angus founded the school in 1935, at the age of about 29.

Stouts Hill fête: after the opening

He ruled from his study, on the ground floor at the back of the school; an old-fashioned comfortable room that most boys visited only in order to be caned. With occasional exceptions, he was the only person in the school who wielded the cane, and so he had to spend a part of each day caning boys. He seemed to take no pleasure in it and presumably regarded it as a necessary chore.

Headmaster's study

He taught maths to the 6th form, and did so rather efficiently, concentrating on geometry in particular. Strangely, although I later specialized in maths and took three different maths 'A' levels, I don't think I ever encountered the subject of geometry again after leaving Stouts Hill.

He was married to Joan, who seemed not at all well during my time at the school, and they had a collection of quite young and attractive daughters: Carol, Paddy, Sue, and Jane, in that order. I believe that some or all of the daughters were educated at the school, although girls weren't normally admitted.

I never had any idea that he was a poet. But apparently he wrote poetry throughout his life, and there is now a Web site devoted to his poetry, which also reveals that his MA from Cambridge was in English, and that he originally planned to be a writer, poet, or journalist.

He was a man of considerable dignity. On one occasion in the 6th form, he saw a large mug sitting on a shelf above his head. Feeling that it shouldn't be there, he reached up for it. What he didn't know was that someone was growing beans or sprouts in water in that mug. Assuming that it was empty, he up-ended it in the process of removing it, and neatly tipped the beans and the water over his own head.

He stood there dripping and we sat in silent shock, awaiting the explosion. But he took it well, and realized before saying anything that no boy had committed any crime: he had merely made an unsound assumption.

It was Mr Angus who advised my parents, knowing that they were short of money, to enter me for scholarship exams to four different public schools, in the hope that at least one of them would award me something. One of the headmasters of these schools sent my parents a nasty letter when he found out about this: he felt that it wasn't cricket to shop around for the best offer. I don't know whether my parents bothered to reply.

Jonathan Marler says that:

Mr Angus had good connections with several public schools, and some house masters at those schools sat on an advisory board for Stouts Hill. Notable among them was John Lewis of House Number 8 at Malvern, and a number of Stouts Hill students went to Malvern, including myself.

According to Nicholas Barton's book, Mr Angus died in 1985 and Mrs Angus in 1992. Subsequently the bungalow in the school grounds to which they moved in retirement was sold, and some alterations were made to it.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Paddy Angus/Scott-Clark

Paddy (Patricia) was the second of the Angus daughters, and a pupil at the school from 1943 to 1950. On the 1st of September 1964, she married Ian Scott-Clark, who became the deputy headmaster after Mr Angus retired, and she sometimes taught at the school herself. They had a son named Kim, who appears in one of the photos that John Morris contributed.

I've been in touch with her by e-mail in recent months; she's been friendly and helpful, and sent me four Stouts Hill Magazines for scanning. She still lives at Stouts Hill.

Update from Kim Scott-Clark, received on the 21st of October 2014:

I am very sorry to say that my mother Paddy Scott-Clark passed away last Saturday. She died at Gloucester hospital ten days after undergoing emergency stomach surgery. Although her death was not sudden and her family were able to be with her it is obviously a shock to everyone that knew her ... There will be a Thanksgiving service at St Giles Church, Uley, on Friday October 31st at 12.30pm and anyone will be very welcome.

Carol Angus

Carol was the first of the Angus daughters, and a pupil at the school from 1942 to 1950. Paddy says of her:

Sadly my older sister Carol died in June 2003 of cancer. She was full of life and would have been delighted with your web and would certainly have contributed some funny stories. She remained friends with many of the boys later in life. She herself became a nurse in the London hospitals.

The 1964 Stouts Hill Magazine notes that she was working in the Princess Louise Hospital for children at that time.

John Morris says he was told that Carol was an air stewardess; it seems unlikely that she had two different careers, but quite possible of course.

I don't know whether she ever married.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Some early-1960s photos

Jeremy Cape (in Australia) has sent three black-and-white small-group photos from the early 1960s, which I added to Flickr with the other photos on the 3rd. Thanks, Jeremy!

Today I decided that the photos were too dark, so I've taken steps to lighten them and uploaded the new lighter versions.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Stouts Hill group on LinkedIn

Those of you who are members of LinkedIn, the international Web site for professional contacts, may like to know that there's now a Stouts Hill group that you can join. It was set up by Richard Guha, not by me.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Oliver!

John has provided the following photo of Oliver!, the school play in 1969, with Mr Cromie as Fagin.

Oliver!

Oliver! was performed again in 1974, but rather oddly the 1974 Stouts Hill Magazine offers only a blurred photo and a brief incoherent article by a participant: no cast list and no review.

Salad Days

This was the school play twice: in March 1967 and also in 1973 (as remembered by John and Huw). The first one was in my time; I didn't appear in the play, but I remember listening to a record of the songs that was lying around.

See an outline of the play and Wikipedia's page on it.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Site map

Blog entries are arranged in chronological order by date of posting, which doesn't make for convenient reference. I've now provided a site map to give an overview of what's here and enable you to find particular topics more easily. There's a link to the site map in the right pane.

Friday, 25 April 2008

History of the school

This is largely based on information from Nicholas Barton's A history of Stouts Hill (2006, 128 pages), as mentioned by Alan Davis, which I bought in 2007 from the Stouts Hill Cotswold Timeshare.

The Stouts Hill site was occupied in the 13th century by a family called Stut or Stout; hence the name. However, Timothy Gyde inherited the place from his father in 1743 and built the main building that we know now, perhaps using some parts of whatever building had been there before.

Timothy Gyde had expensive tastes and died insolvent; the place was bought by William Lloyd Baker in 1786. A descendant of his, Olive Lloyd-Baker, was still in possession in 1935 when Robert Angus was looking for a place to start a school. At that time the property “had been empty for two years and had no electricity or main drainage (only septic tanks)”, so Miss Olive Lloyd-Baker asked a modest rent for it.

Stouts Hill School thus started in 1935 with 12 pupils, Mr and Mrs Angus, two other teachers, and a matron. By 1939 it had 60 pupils. At that point war broke out and Mr Angus joined the Army. He was released from the Army to return to the school “at the request of influential parents”, upon which he joined the Uley Home Guard.

By the 1960s, the school had about 120 pupils aged from 6 to 13; some boys stayed on an extra year, reaching 14.

Barton reports that Mr Angus bought the property from Miss Lloyd-Baker in the early 1970s and made it into a charitable trust. In fact the 1964 Stouts Hill Magazine reports that the school was already a charitable trust at that time; it seems to have happened during the 1963/64 academic year.

The Angus Wing or New Wing was added to the school in 1968 (after I left), containing classrooms, dormitories, and staff bedrooms. Beech House and South Bend in Uley were no longer needed.

Mr Angus retired in 1969 and moved into a new bungalow constructed in the grounds; Mr Cromie took over as headmaster. Later, a new assembly hall was built (now used for badminton and other games).

The school closed after the first term of 1979, and the property was taken over by the present owners, the Stouts Hill Cotswold Timeshare. Barton reports that the number of pupils had declined to 80 because times were changing and the school hadn't changed with them sufficiently. In particular, he thinks that parents were becoming unhappy with single-sex education and felt somewhat less need for boarding schools. (I was sent to boarding schools because my parents lived in Nigeria and didn't think I'd get an adequate education there.)

I've heard rumours of some kind of financial scandal around the time that the school closed, but I don't know the details.

The Angus Wing was demolished in 2000 as it was “always considered an eyesore by visitors to the timeshare”.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Photos 2004

Emile Farhi has contributed eight photos of Stouts Hill taken in December 2004, and I've added them to Flickr with the others—please use the Stouts Hill photos link in the right pane.

These are relatively small photos (640 × 480), but nice to have. I don't have many modern colour photos of the place. You can also see Emile here, looking quite recognizable from forty years earlier.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Mr Bruce

Stephen Fry mentions a Scottish master called Jim Bruce who taught history with a Scottish emphasis, and divinity. He had been a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War, and died in about 1995.

According to the 1966 Stouts Hill Magazine, he was due to arrive at the school in September 1966, so he was there throughout my final year; but I don't remember him, I suppose because he never taught me.

John has provided this link to a 36-page PDF file written by Mr Bruce about his experiences as a teenage prisoner of the Japanese. He was apparently born in about 1926.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Timothy Sawdon

Timothy Sawdon (known as Soggy) was one of Mrs Angus's two brothers. He could be seen around the school but at the time I never understood who he was nor what his function might be. Occasionally he would give a music appreciation class, which would be a disaster because he was completely incapable of controlling a class, and furthermore because few boys (of my generation, and at that age) are disposed to appreciate classical music.

As well as being helpless in front of boys, he had a nervous twitch that boys would unkindly mimic.

He used to come into the library sometimes to play Mozart on the piano. I didn't recognize the music at the time, but years later I was reminded of that library on hearing Mozart. He didn't mind sharing the library with me because I didn't cause trouble: I read my book, he played his music, all serene. Perhaps he imagined that I enjoyed his music, but in fact I was concentrating on my book and wasn't kind enough to think of complimenting him. I was a boy, after all.

John says that he was an Old Blundellian: he went to Blundell's School in Devon, as John and I both did after leaving Stouts Hill.

Reginald Sawdon

Reginald Sawdon was one of Mrs Angus's two brothers, who lived at the school throughout its existence until he died suddenly of a heart attack on the 12th of June 1967 (according to the 1967 Stouts Hill Magazine).

He was almost completely deaf and dumb, and David remembers that masters used to communicate with him using sign language.

David also remembers that he was very fond of his red motorcycle (around 1950), although later on he acquired a car and seems to have been equally fond of that.

Julian says he was said to have made the two model battleships that were displayed in glass cases outside the blue dining room.

Unfortunately I seem to have no memory of him. Sigh. My memory is like a colander.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Date the photo

John says this aerial view of the school is pre-1967. I reckon it's probably pre-1963. Have a look at it at a larger size (it goes up to 2184 × 2080) and tell us if you know better.

Aerial view pre-1967

Monday, 21 January 2008

Photos 1969-1974

I'm in the process of adding a large batch of photos from 1969 and onwards, kindly contributed by John Morris. John scanned these from fairly small prints, so the quality leaves something to be desired.

At the same time, I've reorganized the photos into three separate time periods. Please use the link in the right panel to reach them.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Mr Flood

John Flood had a room at the bottom of the hill near the shooting range, and as far as I remember we always went there to be taught by him, instead of staying in our normal classroom.

According to the 1968 Stouts Hill Magazine, he taught science, geography, and scripture, thereby covering a considerable amount of ground. I don't remember whether he taught me scripture, but (coming from a non-religious family) I was never very receptive to that subject. I do remember that we touched on the subject of biology once — and we went to the lake to look for specimens — but I think that was only for a short period of time.

He was mainly memorable for taking us sailing. On Sundays he would take a few senior boys in his car to Frampton, where we sailed on a lake that was part of a wildlife sanctuary. The lake wasn't very large, but it was larger than the school's own lake, and had a couple of islands in the middle, which made it more interesting. We used to hope for bad weather, because in good weather there was no wind and we'd have to paddle slowly around the lake.

Apart from the sailing, the other attraction of Frampton was the packed lunch, which was different from regular school food and therefore greatly enjoyed.

Mr Flood had a small printing press with movable type, which was used to print some notices for the school. Boys who felt interested could participate in using it.

It was kind of him to give up his Sundays to take us sailing, and we appreciated it as a treat at the time. I was a bit wary of him because he came down rather sharply on any misbehaviour; but I suppose that's fairly normal for schoolmasters.

I wrote to Mr Flood in December and received a long and pleasant reply in January, most of which I've added as a comment to this post because it seems too long to add as an indented quotation. He seems to have prospered well enough over the years.

Mrs Flood

It's clear from the Stouts Hill Magazines that Mrs Flood was teaching at the school during my time, but I'm afraid I don't seem to remember her. Perhaps she taught only the younger boys.

I was already nine and a half when I arrived at the school in autumn 1963, and with my poor memory I remember very little of the early years.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Kingfisher Society

John has sent me a copy of the letter that announced the founding of the Kingfisher Society.

On the 27th April, 1970, the above society was formed independent of the school, by the “Old Boys” with the object of taking over from the school all functions and meetings of Old Boys, maintaining contact between former pupils, past and present staff of the school, and to take an interest in and assist with the progress and development of the school in all its activities, to give the school where possible both financial as well as moral support, and in time to create bursaries or scholarships for sons or daughters of old boys to attend the school.

The system was that boys would pay for lifetime membership either on leaving the school, or by termly installments during their time at the school; all payments being voluntary.

I was never a member of the Society nor aware of its existence, because it was formed several years after I left the school. John wonders whether it ceased to function after the school closed, or whether it's still operational in some sense. Does anyone know?